By: Kristen Shaffer
As you drive through the small railroad town of Sutton, West Virginia, there are only a few businesses remaining of the many that once lined the brick street. Many of the storefronts are boarded, where only a few, struggling businesses remain. Was it the large fast-food chain that moved into town, that pushed the small diner out of business? Was it the large grocery store that forced the small hardware store to close its doors? As consumers, many don’t consider the impact made on a small business when you decide to support a large cooperation. With the lack of funding and modern-day communications strategies, the small businesses fall into the shadows of large corporations.
In the ever-changing field of advertising and public relations, technology is constantly evolving. The use of social media is growing and the need for small businesses to be recognized is increasing. Social media has the power to draw in new customers into a struggling business, or even grow a small business into a large cooperation. With large chain stores moving into rural West Virginia, we must not forget about the small businesses that opened in railroad towns nearly one hundred years ago across the state. These businesses are slowly diminishing as years go by with the lack of advertising on modern-day websites and social media platforms.
According to the United States Small Business Administration, over 3,000 jobs in small business were lost in 2019 in West Virginia alone. The figure is significant because these numbers affect entire families and communities. With only limited accessibility to communications agencies within the state and funding of the businesses, it is up to the government to make a change to determine the futures of these failing businesses.
For the future of the economy in West Virginia, I believe that it is necessary for the government to allocate funding for communications of small businesses. With the partnership of agencies in the local area, this effort would not only promote tourism, but could potentially change the fate of many small businesses in various towns across the state. The state could even offer small business training for a low cost, which shows small business owners how to effectively communicate to tourists and other consumers.
West Virginia tourism is at the heart of the economy. In 2018, the spending of the traveler in the state grew at a rate of 6.5 percent, totaling nearly $4.55 billion, according to governor.wv.gov. According to “The Impact of Social Media on the Tourism Industry,”many often rely on social media networks to learn about new travel destinations. If this action was taken by the government, I believe that it could be mutually beneficial to the states finances and that of the small businesses. There would be more spending, which the state would then benefit from the tax dollars generated by these small businesses.
Reinvesting tax dollars back into the tourism industry and encouraging locals to shop small could make an extremely influential impact. No matter where you are in the state, remember the importance of supporting a small business, for the betterment of your community and the future of West Virginia.
“2019 Small Business Profile.” U.S Small Business Administration Office. SBA Office of Advocacy, 2019. https://cdn.advocacy.sba.gov/wp content/uploads/2019/04/23142703/2019-Small-Business-Profiles-WV.pdf. 17 February 2021.
Liudmila, Kazak “The Impact of Social Media on the Tourism Industry.” Linkedin. www.linkedin.com/pulse/impact-social-media-tourism-industry-liudmila-kazak. 17 February 2021.
“West Virginia Tourism Industry Outpaces National Growth by 58 Percent.” Office of the Governor, 2018. governor.wv.gov/News/press-releases/2019/Pages/West-Virginia-tourism-industry-outpaces-national-growth-by-58-percent.aspx. 17 February 2021.